Paint, abstract art, focus of James Little curated exhibition at Art Students League

NADINE MATTHEWS | 3/21/2019, midnight
In an interview in BOMB magazine a few years ago, artist James Little declared, “I choose to be abstract because ...
Dan Christensen, Jarrito, 1997, Acyrlic on Canvas Photo courtesy of Art Students League

What you won’t find at “New York-Centric” is sculpture or collage or ink drawings. There are only paintings, and that too, was a deliberate choice in Little’s part. “I wanted it to be about the paint,” Little explained, “Painting is considered this archaic form and I knew it was not true. I wanted to get back to paint and the relationship that artists have with paint and color, geometry, expressionism, shape and form.”

You also won’t find non-American artists or any who were based anywhere but in proximity to New York. Little stated, “I wanted to focus on artists that worked in the general area of New York. New York painters bring something to painting that you just can’t get anywhere else. Also, this is American art. I wanted it to be authentically American. I wanted the ideas to be American and I wanted the freedom to be American.”

His choice of artists also symbolize cautionary tales for younger artists about the type of challenges they may face. “They made these beautiful paintings but making this work took a toll on these artists. This is very difficult work. It requires a lot of self-discipline, a lot of confidence. A lot of them suffered from alcoholism and that kind of thing.”

Bill Hutson, one of Little’s friends, and one of the exhibiting artists, was in attendance at the reception. Dressed regally in black kufi hat with gold embroidery, Hutson agreed that creating this type of art can be tough. “Sometimes I still don’t know what the heck I’m doing. It’s all still a mystery and an adventure!” Still, Hutson’s love for abstraction is steadfast. “It’s still the only game in town for me,” he exclaimed.